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I think I have just understood the beauty of twitter.

I’ve never been a massive fan of twitter, while I respect its importance as a tool for a journalist (and I can’t help enjoying stalking celebrities on it), I’ve always just considered it another medium for inane attention grabbing teenagers to scream ‘look at me, look at me’.

However, as hurricane Sandy (aptly labelled Frankenstorm) built up strength before sending New York into a state of absolute chaos I found I was addicted to watching it all play out on the screen in front of me. The Sandy-based tweets flooded onto my twitter feed, with as much strength as the proceeding storm. It was at this point that I realised the impact that twitter has on our everyday lives, and its relevance during times of disaster.

While it seems as though there were thousands of generic well-wishing and good-luck messages being thrown around cyber-space, there were also many tweets that gave a real insight into the panic, fear and terrifying effects the storm was having on the people of New York and New Jersey.

This, in many ways, is a journalists dream; all this relevant and up-to-date information out there in the public domain for the taking. As long as they can sift through the worrying amount of advertising or promoting tweets which seemed to either be taking advantage of those in need or discussing something completely unrelated. An example I saw of this was this one by a hairdressing magazine:

#Sandy got you stuck inside? Boredom can lead to rash decisions. Here are 11 things to know before dyeing your own hair…

American Apparell also caused widespread outrage when they advertised a ‘Hurricane Sandy Sale.’

However, although being an amazing tool for knowing how the storm progressed, you definitely can’t believe everything you read on there. Fake photos were rife all across twitter, with many people taken in by some of the less obvious. I have to admit a personal favourite of mine was the ‘photos’ of sharks swimming down New York’s roads. Luckily they were unfounded…..


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